Crew and Fire ready to re-ignite rivalry in Oduro's return to Chicago
The Crew and the Chicago Fire will meet for the 48th time in MLS Regular Season play Saturday evening (8:30 p.m. ET / FOX Sports Ohio), re-igniting the League's storied Midwestern rivalry. The rivalry boasts 11 trophies between the two clubs and several memorable matches, including the 2008 Eastern Conference Final that sent the Crew to its first MLS Cup appearance.
But Saturday's clash takes on a different meaning for one current member of the Black & Gold. The match will be Crew striker Dominic Oduro's first time facing his former team since joining the Black & Gold from the Fire in January.
Though Oduro still keeps in touch with several of his former Fire teammates, the friendships will be turned off once the whistle blows on Saturday night.
"I keep in touch with Patrick [Nyarko] a lot, he's my fellow Ghanaian," Oduro said. "Sean [Johnson], Jalil [Anibaba] and all the other guys, I still have love for them. On the field on Saturday for 90 minutes, we're going to be enemies. After that we'll still love each other."
Acquired by the Crew in a trade in January for winger Dilly Duka, Oduro and Duka became the 15th and 16th players to play for both sides of the rivalry. The two joined the likes of Jon Busch and Brian McBride before them to don the colors of the Fire and the Crew.
After spending five years in the English Premier League, McBride returned to his hometown to play for the Fire in 2008. The move drew ire of fans in Columbus seeing the Crew legend join the club's biggest rival.
McBride knows what Oduro can expect being on the other side of the rivalry.
"I think it's a great rivalry," McBride said. "Any time you play for one team and then the other, of course you're always going to get some ribbing. To me that just shows the passion involved, not only in the rivalry on the field, but with the fans."
Oduro is focusing on the weekend's match just as he would any other, trying hard not to focus much on the rivalry aspect. The Ghanaian forward is in fine form, having scored three goals for the Crew this season including two in the Black & Gold's past two matches.
"I'm just going to keep my head and try to keep playing the way I've been playing," he said. "If I've learned anything, it's that you don't try to go out there and intensify the game because you're playing your old team."
"You have to treat it as any other game. With that focus, I think you're able to perform well."
As mentioned above, 16 players have represented both the Crew and the Fire in the teams' storied rivalry. McBride and Busch are the only players to appear 60 times for both clubs in MLS and MLS Cup Playoffs competition.
|Player||CLB Appearances (Goals)||CHI Appearances (Goals)|
|Tenywa Bonseu||26 (0)||8 (0)|
|Jon Busch||91 (0)||69 (0)|
|Matt Chulis||10 (0)||1 (0)|
|Dilly Duka||46 (2)||4* (0)|
|Leonard Griffin||0 (0)||18 (0)|
|Andy Herron||18 (4)||65 (15)|
|Ritchie Kotschau||26 (1)||24 (4)|
|Manny Lagos||23 (1)||10 (0)|
|Brian McBride||183 (71)||65 (19)|
|Dominic Oduro||6* (3)||68 (18)|
|Brian Plotkin||0 (0)||23 (1)|
|Ante Razov||7 (1)||181 (86)|
|Tony Sanneh||8 (2)||34 (0)|
|Tim Ward||20 (0)||25 (0)|
|Andy Williams||41 (2)||49 (7)|
|John Wolyniec||18 (3)||
Includes MLS Regular Season and Playoffs
*Active with club